What, Me Worry About Dear Leader Jr.?

Guess Who Ended Up with the Cheerleader?

Pete Langlo in 1943, collecting scrap iron for the war effort.
Courtesy Photo

Fear the Nerd? What if the fattest nerd in the 8th grade not only wound up with the cheerleader but also a whole country, and a fistful of missiles to boot?

And to top it off, threatened to nuke the West Coast?

Would Santa Barbarans be doing duck-and-cover drills, screaming at City Hall to do something, anything, and packing up en masse for Scottsdale or Minnesota? It’s weird that around town, you don’t hear people buzzing about North Korea’s Kim Jong-un and his bellicose, missile-rattling ranting.

Barney Brantingham

Are we that blasé? The Rooshians never did it, and we fretted all the way through the Cold War, all for nothing. So now, I guess, it’s ho-hum. The coffee-shop talk is about the price of gas, the Lakers, the Angels and Dodgers, and the dad-blasted taxes due this week.

Give us something to really get fired up about, I guess. But clearly, something has got to be done about the Korean Peninsula. Kim’s grandfather, you may recall, touched off the 1950s Korean War by invading South Korea. When it was over, about one million people were dead, including 33,574 Americans and one of my high-school buddies. I almost got sent over there ​— twice. And the boundary between North and South was still about in the same place.

Young Kim, by the way, has disowned the armistice agreement. With almost no dictatorship experience at all, he was elevated to the job when his father, Kim Jong-il, died. Now about 30, young Kim soon attracted Ri Sol-ju, a singer and former cheerleader (they have cheerleaders in Korea despite hordes of people dying of starvation?) as first lady. Amazing what a uniform will do for a homely guy, eh?

Browsing at the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum Sunday, I harked back to when Santa Barbara really knew how to react to a threat. When a Japanese sub shelled the oil pier at Ellwood on February 23, 1942, just weeks after Pearl Harbor, all hell broke loose.

Only minor damage resulted, but there were blackouts, fear, and panic. A small army of aircraft wardens were enlisted to watch for the next attack so many were sure was coming.

Pete Langlo, then a 12-year-old Boy Scout, volunteered as a proud junior warden. He and an adult warden would be driven out west along the coast to phone in reports of any aircraft, which all turned out to be friendly, but Langlo was one proud kid, doing his bit for the war effort. Langlo’s Scout uniform is on display, proudly saved all these years.

The display also includes a shed door blown off an oil pier by a shell and a fragment of shrapnel. In 1942, no one was blasé. But along with patriotism and fear came the shameful forced internment of West Coast residents of Japanese descent, including Santa Barbara County families, as ordered by president Franklin D. Roosevelt.

(If you can read this, no missile has hit us yet.)

Hot Market: Santa Barbara realtors are saluting because the market, cold as a January night just a few months ago, is hot, hot, hot. Prices are up, and buyers are lobbing in multiple offers. Realtors are rushing door to door, chatting up homeowners to see if they’re ready to put the homestead up for grabs. Two problems: “No inventory,” moan the agents. And getting a loan is still a challenge. But if you can pay cash, you’re “golden,” as realtors put it.

Magical Thinking: How do you cope with the death of not just one loved one but two? In The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion did a masterful job of intelligent, heartfelt writing about the deaths of her husband, author John Gregory Dunne, and her daughter, Quintana. Actress Linda Purl more than did justice to the one-woman play when it opened last weekend with the Ensemble Theatre Company. Purl took over the part after Bonnie Franklin became ill. Franklin died on March 1.

Upchucking: Who says there’s no inflation? Shockingly, two-buck Chuck is no longer $1.99. Duck into Trader Joe’s, and you’ll find that a bottle of Charles Shaw wine has gone up to $2.49. A couple of years of poor harvests are blamed. But Sue and I loaded the cart with the Wednesday-quality vino anyway. (We swill the high-priced $7.99 stuff on weekends.) Drinkers buy about five million cases of Chuck Shaw a year. And there really is, or was, a Charles F. Shaw. He owned a California winery until he got divorced in 1991 and sold it. His name lives on. Salute!


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